THE ADVISORS gets 7.5/10 The Agony Aunt and the Ecstasy

Directed by Gita Bezard
Starring Jeffrey Jay Fowler, Arielle Gray, Chris Isaacs, Frieda Lee, and Mararo Wangai.

“If you have to ask advice on how to get rid of a body, you’ve waited too long!”

A torrent of advice flows from five colourfully dressed individuals on the small rectangular space of the stage. Like judgmental Wiggles, production company The Last Great Hunt, dispense words of wisdom rapid fire, covering everything from the death of the dinosaurs to surviving the social collapse of the Apocalypse. All forms of advice, about everything they can think of. Be it good, bad, or plain ugly. This is The Advisors.

Imagine a Greek chorus, bereft of heroes and gods to comment on, and instead forced to turn their attention on everyday minutiae. Finance, child rearing, workplace relations, love, marriage, sex, masculinity, femininity, getting away with murder, being the best off milk you can be – from the serious to the surreal, a dazzling array of subject matters are discussed here, by the five players on stage. In its short run time The Advisors attempts to give you the world, or at least as comprehensive a list of advice about living in it as you can squeeze into an hour and fifteen minutes.

There is a quick cadence about the advice, a machine gun staccato that gives each section its rhythm. As the cast shift from segment to segment, covering a dizzying variety of topics that rhythm changes separating the various sections into their own unique thing. Constant refrains will pop up, punctuating these segments, reflecting common wisdom (a phrase that is often proven to be wrong in at least one of those accounts). Often these refrains will reappear, threaded through later segments, adding comedy, and occasionally a little pathos to the mix.

It’s that mutability that is the key to The Advisors. In it quick and comprehensive coverage, everything can be turned on its head. Good advice can easily become bad, the tragic can be turned into the comedic (or vise versa). That whiplash turn has a visceral impact on the audience. A laugh can die in your throat, as you realise the full horror of what has been said.

Which is really the point. That constant bombard of advice; from friends, family, co-workers, media, advertising – it is the background radiation to our lives. Something that is always there, which we in turn resent, rely on, and dispense ourselves. The Advisors, in its manic peppering, strangely gives us pause to reflect and to analyse. How we give, how we receive, and what we value. Confrontational or comforting, it will touch on both aspects of a given subject.

That pell-mell pace can also lead to a few tripped-over lines, and premature cues, but given the speed and the richness of the piece, it’s understandable. Fun, thoughtful, and oft times tragic, The Advisors is well worth a watch… but that’s just my advice.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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